Saturday, August 5, 2017

Cypress Ave


Movin' On

The Midnight Ghost Train is Moving on from what they normally do, and the results are sometimes bewildering and sometimes breathtaking.  There is a lot of variety here; check out one from the breathtaking category, "The Boogie Down".  Sounds like what the band Cake would sound like after they listening to a lot of funk.  The inclusion of horns justifies my "Movin' On" title:

And "Lemon Trees" is another unexpected direction for this band, but just draws me in every time I hear it:

I have to admit, I would have been just fine if The Midnight Ghost Train was like AC/DC and just put out more of exactly what we expect every few years.  But they have the artistic bug, and this album seems to have the band putting out feelers in all kinds of directions.  I am still scratching my head a bit at "The Watchers Nest", "Black Wave" and "I Can't Let You Go" a bit, but love "Red Eyed Junkie Queen" and "Bury Me Deep".  In the end, "Cypress Ave." really reminds me of how I felt as a kid after seeing "The Empire Strikes Back"; I could not have been more on-board after the first movie, but then the second movie had so many awesome parts but left me saying "don't leave me hanging like this!".  Cypress Ave makes me feel the same way, wondering how long I will have to wait to learn where the band goes from here.  In any case, there is no denying how sincere Steve Moss is, and how forceful a rock presence he is

The Midnight Ghost Train is:
Steve Moss - Guitar / Vocals
Brandon Burghart - Drums
Mike Boyne - Bass

(Brandon - Mike -Steve)

 Got another playlist for you; this one was the best to date at its time.  It's 14% Boston Stoner Rock (2 Roadsaw tunes), 14% New Jersey (2 Atomic Bitchwax) and 14% Texas (2 Wo Fat).  Check out Stoner Rock Playlist #6, below.

Catch you next weekend, peoples      -ULTRA

STONER ROCK #6 (Playlist)

This one is the best playlist I've posted yet, I think.  Aggressive stoner rock beginning to end, with nice transitions if you ask me.  Hope you agree: 
  Check out my review of the new Midnight Ghost Train album, above.  

Until next time

Friday, July 28, 2017

STONER ROCK #5 (Playlist)

This one's 31% Brant Bjork (2 Che, 2 Brant Bjork).  I was going through a real Brant Bjork phase when I made this playlist years ago, and have never really grown out of it.  Brant's music is just as important as Queens of The Stone Age in terms of Kyuss off-shoots, in my opinion.  Especially for the Che tunes, make sure you have it loud enough to hear the softer, secondary guitar track; definitely a key component to the band's unique sound.  Lots of other tasty tracks in this list as well, and if you have never heard the closing track "Starhammer" from Motorpsycho, this is mandatory listening.  

 I posted a quick "three-fer" of mini reviews below.  Catch you next weekend.
Here are a few we haven't discussed:

YOUNGBLOOD SUPERCULT: "The Great American Death Rattle"
I really enjoyed their 2016 release, "High Plains" (mentioned here).  The singer David Merrill, reminds me of Craig Riggs of Boston's own Roadsaw.  This tune is fairly representative of what this album has to offer; it's the closing track, entitled "Sticky Fingers."

DUEL: "Witchbanger"
Duel's last album made my top ten list for 2016.  It got a LOT of listens and continues to get regular play from me.  Witchbanger seems to be better-recorded, and definitely shows effort by the band to maintain familiarity while branching out a bit.  Sounds like a can't miss album, yet for some reason I am not addicted to this album like I was to its predecessor.  Still a quality hard-rock/stoner release.  This is my favorite track here, "Heart Of The Sun":

HAZY SEA: "Astrolabe"
Astrolabe is the second full-length release in 2017 for this band from Athens, which plays instrumental stoner/hard rock on par with the greats, including Karma To Burn and Pelican.  I loved "Electric Abyss", mentioned here, and "Astrolabe" is equally great; not sure I can decide which is my favorite.  Here is the lead track, called "The Journey": 

Just a quick sampler this week while I am checking out a couple of super-recent releases.  Will review whichever is my favorite next weekend.  Over and out.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

STONER ROCK #4 (Playlist)

This one's 20% Clutch (2 Clutch, 1 Bakerton Group).  If we use that same word as an adjective, this playlist is 100% clutch.  Turn your speakers up and dive in!! Make sure to check out my review of the new Five Horse Johnson album, below!
Straight-Shootin' Stoner/Blues

Five Horse Johnson has been putting out high quality blues rock since the nineties.  Quite often they are claimed by stoner rock fans, perhaps due to their relative obscurity or perhaps due to their friendship with the band Clutch, a member of the Stoner Rock Hall of Fame.  For me, when Five Horse Johnson releases an album, I know that every tune will be good, and that there will be a few standouts that I'll want to play again and again years down the line.  I am several listens into Jake Leg Boogie, and here are a couple of those standouts:

First, track #2, "Magic Man" (no reference to Cal Naughton, Jr. as far as I can tell): 

Next, my favorite track on the album, entitled "Daddy Was A Gun":

And just in case this is your first introduction to the band, why don't you check out the classic "Soul Digger", off of one of their greatest albums, called "The Lat Men On Earth":

And here's a collaboration with friends Clutch, recorded for the album "Sucking The 70's: Back In The Saddle Again", an epic 2-disc album featuring the best of the best stoner rock bands covering tunes from the 1970's.  This is a cover of Parliament's "Red Hot Mama".  

Five Horse Johnson is:
Eric Oblander-Vox/Harp
Brad Coffin-Guitar/Vox
Steve Smith-Bass
Phil Durr-Guitar
Tim Gahagan-Drums

 (Tim is not in this pic; can't find one with all 5)

BTW, Eric is a kingpin on the harmonica, if you ask me; among the best there has been in rock music, in my opinion.

Catch you next weekend, peoples      -ULTRA

Friday, July 14, 2017

STONER ROCK #3 (Playlist)

This one's kind of trippy.   Hope you enjoy it! 
Make sure to check out my review of Paradox Hourglass below!
L'IRA DEL BACCANO: Paradox Hourglass

Bringing New Meaning to "Italian Masterpiece"

If you type those two words into a search engine, you're going to get referred to a whole lot of paintings, but you should be taken straight to Bandcamp to check out this April 14th  release by a band I just found today.  Bandcamp's home page had a link to a story on Italian Psych bands, and I clicked, thinking I would see a nice write-up on Black Rainbows and maybe find some new heavy psych that's right up my alley.  I was half-right on Black Rainbows; they got five sentences worth of mention, and were listed ninth out of ten featured bands.  But I got so much more than I expected in the way of rock that is new to me.  My favorite of the featured albums was definitely Paradox Hourglass.  It is analogous on a few levels to Mastodon, in that it has the technical precision of Rush while maintaining both stoner rock and heavy metal appeal, but adds a dimension of psychedelia that separates it from Mastodon.  It took me quite a while to recognize that this is an instrumental album, since it is so thoroughly engaging, it not once occurred to me that anything was missing.  Hear for yourself; this is track #3 of 4, entitled "Abilene", clocking in at the fastest 11:17 you have ever heard:

Now the tune that grabbed me first: track one, "Paradox Hourglass-Part 1" (11:10)

L'Ira Del Baccano lists themselves as being from both Rome and New York.  They are:

Alessandro “Drughito” Santori - guitar/direction and architecture of Baccano
Roberto Malerba - guitar/synth
Sandro “fred” Salvi - drums
Ivan Contini Bacchisio - bass

I had intended to post the pre-released tracks from the upcoming Devil Electric album tonight, but this blew me away and I needed to share.  I purchased this after one listen, and know that this will end up costing me pennies per listen, after all the plays it will get.

Until next time!   -ULTRA

Saturday, July 8, 2017

STONER ROCK #2 (Playlist)

I've got 33 of these playlists so far, but I'm starting off with number 2.  (Number one is no slouch, but number 2 suits my mood tonight;  I almost went with #31).  If you like my posts, turn this up and let it manipulate your mood for the next 64 minutes.  I am proud of the flow of this playlist, and each and every tune on it is a true stoner rock classic.  Hope you enjoy it! 


Friday, July 7, 2017

CORTEZ: The Depths Below


It's been five years since Cortez' last full length (self-titled) album, and they have improved their skills by a significant amount.  They have clearly put a lot of time and effort into this release, and it is worthy of your $8 if you are a fan of stoner rock.  These guys have taken a huge step towards Stoner Rock Kingpin status.  My early favorites on this album are the trilogy "In The Shadows Of The Ancients", parts I, II and III (tracks 3-5) but here is a good starter track, entitled "Dead Channel": 

Here's track #2, "Poor and Devoid":

And here is my favorite from their 2012 self-titled album, entitled "Nice Try".  I have shared this track with quite a few people over the years.  
Cortez is:
Matt Harrington - vocals 
Scott O'Dowd - guitar & backing vocals 
Alasdair Swan - guitar 
Jay Furlo - bass & backing vocals 
Jeremy Hemond - drums
Gonna keep it coming next weekend.  Until then, over and out  

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Very non Metal Review - Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit's The Nashville Sound

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - The Nashville Sound

What's more metal than a songwriter flipping the script on the country/folk/americana genre by singing about real life and not the lost my dog/wife/truck script? A self admitted recovering drugger and drinker who was kicked out of alt country Drive By Truckers after hitting rock bottom. Fortunately for his fans, he was able to kick the drinking and drugging to write some amazing records. His latest "The Nashville Sound" continues to spin heads as he writes about racism and the burdens women (specifically his wife and daughter) face as they strive to do something groundbreaking.

I first came across Jason during an interview with Marc Maron a few years ago. He spoke about getting sober, his influences(Muscle Shoals) and his relationship with his former band mates. He ended the podcast singing Elephant, a song that touches upon barflies, cancer and death. The album, "Southeastern" which he had just released and was promoting during the podcast completely hooked me. SO many incredibly touching songs that dealt with a whole lotta topics you never hear about in Rock let alone Country.

His followup, "Something More Than Free", garnered a ton of attention across the Country, Rock and Folk charts, cementing him as one of the leaders of the Outlaw Country movement. Along with the likes of Shooter Jennings and Sturgill Simpson, Isbell has broken the country genre barriers and reached the ears of a larger audience. An audience that's as in tune with social media as they are with John Deere tractors. With popular podcasters like Marc Maron and Joe Rogan singing the praises of this movement, the new generation of outlaw country artists have become mainstream.

The more I listen to this record, the more I'm convinced that Isbell could be to this generation what Springsteen was in the 80's during the height of "Born in the Usa". In many cases "The Nashville Sound" is earnest rock and roll with it's "small town-remember the way it was" themes. Isbell's songwriting is so next level that it's timeless. Tracks like Cumberland Gap, Anxiety and the slightly psychedelic Molotov offer plenty of a big rock sound you'd never imagine to hear on an radio ready modern country album. The early Beatles-esque Chaos and Clothes offers a nice bit of unorthodoxy in it's build and rhythm including some nice reverse guitar spliced in for good measure. White Man's World, the most talked about track on the album encapsulates Isbell's thoughts about racial privilege and sexual inequality. The super tear jerky songwriting on If We Were Vampires cuts it's own notch on the bed post of classic love songs. Hope the High Road and Something to Love cap off the album with uplifting messages about making the best of whatever situation you're in and finding the motivation to keep you going when times are tough. Can't find fault with ending a great album on a high note.

I will rarely devote time to writing about Non Metal albums but such a worthy candidate of Album of the Year in so many categories begs for a few of my words on the matter. If you don't own at least one of the the last Jason Isbell records you're missing out on what's going on in the world of songwriting. These albums have been ground breaking and will likely spawn the next generation of great country/folk and rock acts. Hear me out, I'm not a country fan in the sense of what's on the radio these days or anything really outside of the classic outlaw country musicians (Cash and Willie to be specific). This is a great band and album hands down. Pick up "The Nashville Sound" and give it a few spins, they'll be plenty of time to thrash and head bang to whatever we'll find next in our daily dive into obscure metal on band camp later.